South Africa

National tourism body cautions against lockdown rumours

The last thing people who have booked their holidays would like to hear is they cannot travel because of rumours about tightened lockdown restrictions.

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), made this comment on Tuesday as the National Coronavirus Command Council met, reportedly to consider restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol in areas considered to be hotspots across the country.

Last week, Western Cape premier Alan Winde held a meeting to explore ways in which to curb the spread of infections in the province, including what he referred to as a mini-lockdown.

This is when government introduces lockdown regulations in a municipality or district and allows for tracking and tracing to slow down infections and hospitalisation.

Tshivhengwa said the last thing the tourism sector wanted to hear was a rumour about a stricter lockdown.

"We are here to talk and go into the details of it. We do not believe the increase in Covid-19 infections comes from the tourism value chain."

Tshivhengwa said the new infections were coming from community transmission.

He said the country was dealing with a health problem and a battle for behavioural change as people are not used to wearing masks, sanitising and maintaining social distancing.

"We need to go to the source of these infections and find out what are the behaviours in those communities. We have many state organs charged with the responsibility of informing the public about Covid-19."

Tshivhengwa said no-one who travelled wanted to get sick while they are travelling.

"We have protocols put in place at the establishments."

He said for people who have booked their holidays, they do not want to contemplate an  impending stricter lockdown.

Tshivhengwa admitted there were problems with restaurants becoming nightclubs and said the city council will deal with those.

"We have put protocols in place should be followed."

Tshivhengwa said he believes there should be consultations if the Western Cape premier plans new restrictions.

"Any decision made by government has to be debated."

Tshivhengwa said it was too soon to tell whether bookings at tourism establishments had been affected by the rumoured "mini-lockdown"

"People become uncertain. They might stay at home. There are people who had booked and confirmed. What do they do?" 

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